Thursday, September 11, 2008


One of my favorite moments from Charlie Gibson's Palin interview (clip here):

GIBSON: Had you ever traveled outside the country prior to your trip to Kuwait and Germany last year?

PALIN: Canada, Mexico, and then, yeah, that trip that was a trip of a lifetime, to visit our troops in Kuwait and stop and visit our injured soldiers in Germany -- that was a trip of a lifetime and it changed my life.

GIBSON: Have you ever met a foreign head of state?

PALIN: I have not, and I think if you go back in history and if you ask that question of many vice presidents, they may have the same answer that I just gave you. But Charlie, again, we gotta remember what the desire is in this nation at this time: it is for no more politics as usual, and somebody's big fat resume, maybe, that shows decades and decades in that Washington establishment where, yeah, they've had opportunity to meet heads of state.

So what's she's saying, if I understand correctly, is that being exposed to the workings of government to the extent that you might actually have met a foreign leader at least once in your life, or left North America more than once, is actually a detriment, a sign that you're part of a calcified old style of politics that we should do without.

Away with even minimal experience or knowledge! Anything you can't learn in two weeks of cram sessions is not worth knowing!


Other than that (and the moment when she was stumped by the term "Bush Doctrine," and the moment when she again insisted that living near one tiny corner of Russia is a substitute for foreign policy experience), she hung in there. She's learned her lines, and she may even understand what she's saying.

But watch the whole thing. Gibson wasn't even remotely as bad as a lot of people expected. He kept it rather serious. It wasn't Barbara Walters.

And I give him a huge amount of credit for going up on 9/11, on her son's induction day, and not asking, or at least not broadcasting, any heart-tugging questions. (He did use the induction to segue into questions about her church video, although she effectively batted those questions back.) This was a golden opportunity for bathos, and he avoided it.

Gibson also brought her down to earth. Up to now she's been the magical fairy princess who's going to use her hockey-mom superpowers to solve all of America's problems, and this evening she began to be just another pol getting grilled. She began to be earthbound and ordinary. When and if she gets there, she'll be much easier to criticize.

She's not there yet. The interview was still basically an attempt to answer the question "What is this strange creature they call Sarah Palin?" But at least it was mostly about policy. That's good. Eventually it needs to be recognized that she can handle basic questions, and she needs to be asked more pointed ones -- namely about what she stands for that Barack Obama doesn't. Once that happens (if it does before November), she'll seem at least somewhat mortal, and we'll be able to talk about her as a Bush Republican, not as the luminous supernatural creature her cultists worship.

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